Mukilteo Beacon - Your Hometown News Source

By Sarah Kneller

Housing grant: Let's get on the same page


Last updated 2/26/2020 at 11:34am

The City Council has received a number of comments both in person and via E-mail from the community regarding the Housing Action Plan grant we were awarded and the council voted to accept. I am favorable of a full and well-rounded deliberation on all things, and am always open to the discussion of all the potential outcomes. However, if we are going to debate the necessity, validity, or value of an issue, let’s first make sure we are all debating the same thing and using the same vernacular.

The City of Mukilteo has received a grant from the Department of Commerce to complete a Housing Action Plan, which is the result of several studies. Mukilteo hasn’t had a study in this capacity done, ever. The last housing inventory we conducted was a buildable lands inventory approximately eight years ago that does not assess needs, merely what is vacant or potentially available for redevelopment.

While the study was dated 2015, it relied on 2012 data, and was completed as part of a comprehensive plan update. The Housing Action Plan will build on the existing Comprehensive Plan and housing needs specifically.

The plan will include:

• Quantify existing and projected housing needs for all income levels;

• Develop strategies to meet the housing needed by all income levels;

• Analyze population and employment trends;

• Consider strategies to minimize displacement of low-income residents resulting from redevelopment;

• Review and evaluate the Comprehensive Plan Housing Element;

• Provide for participation and input from a variety of stakeholders;

• Include a schedule of programs and actions for implementation of the action plan.

This opportunity comes at a great time for our City. So much has changed in Mukilteo since 2012, and the new Housing Action Plan will provide more detailed information to guide the City’s future actions to improve housing diversity and housing options.

Now, let’s get another thing clear, what isn’t the Housing Action Plan: it isn’t building low-income housing. It is collecting information. The bill also provides several useful definitions related to housing costs.

The term “affordable housing” is clearly defined as “residential housing whose monthly costs, including utilities other than telephone, do not exceed 30% of the monthly income of a household. In Mukilteo, a single person must earn $60K/year to afford a one bedroom apartment, or $127k/year to buy a house. This is the Mukilteo standard for “affordable” housing.

The Housing Action Plan also draws clear distinctions between renters and homeowners. For rental housing, the targeted monthly income level is defined as 60% of the county median household income, adjusted for household size. For owner-occupied housing, the level is 80% of the county median household income once adjusted for household size.

The Planning Commission will be providing guidance and support for the development of the Housing Action Plan. What we're really talking about when we say "affordable housing" is fair-priced residences for all of us who live here, and our future family and friends who want to live in our beautiful city. The public is encouraged to participate fully, and we all look forward to a conversation about how to make Mukilteo even better as we move forward.


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